Modern Times

I have a new phone.

In olden days of yesteryear, such an announcement would have been greeted with a big “So what?”. A phone back then was a simple device , used for the simple task of speaking directly to people anywhere in the civilized world. Such a feat amazed my mother, and my grandfather, who grew up in even simpler times, but for us denizens of the late 20th century, a phone was no big deal.

Today, they are our alter egos, our valets, our staff of loyal servants. They have become, for many, a critical part of daily living.  When they stop working or are lost, you can see the twitching, the muscle memory in play , the person reaching for the device that is no longer there, or no longer lights up. Such poor souls appear lost, haunted.

I have had the fortune or misfortune to have been there at the beginning of this growing symbiosis, this dependency on electric servants. I began just as the standardized mainframe era began , a wretch with punch cards in the pockets and rubber bands on his wrists. I watched the cost of telephones drop to less than $1000 per desk and every desk then so equipped. Two decades later, there was a PC on every desk when they broke the $1000 limit. I lugged a ‘portable computer’ which weighed in at 29 pounds and was the size of a high end sewing machine. I had a phone in my briefcase the size of a shoebox which blasted a full 5 watts of transmit power so I could always be reached.

I marveled at and still possess the first palm pilot, a wonder machine that kept your contacts, your calendar, allowed you to do email off line , fit in your shirt pocket and ran on two AA batteries for a month. That set the hook for my total addition to the info assisted lifestyle.

So it went on , year after year, the symbiosis grew in depth.

Then the great schism occurred, IPhone, Android , Blackberry , Palm and Windows.  Having actually met Jobs on a few occasions, I knew the Iphone would be  a leap for me personally. I was a Palm guy early on, and they did some great  product, but alas, were doomed to fall by the wayside. Android was a hot mess back then, where the main attraction was the OS was free, thus improving the profit margins.

Windows was my next stop, since it fit with the tech I used on all my other machines by then and they gave a good early run. I have known for two years that the Boys from Redmond were going to cede the current ground, but the devices met my particular needs very well, so I just kept on rather than make the painful change.

Well, I am in a month long carry two phones transition now.  It is as if I am housebreaking a whole new generation of servants to sooth my daily interaction chores to come as close to the way things were in my daily life. I now run a Samsung Galaxy s8, now loaded with Android apps written by Microsoft, connected to Microsoft cloud services which support most  of my clients.

The transition started a bit rocky, but is now on the downslope and cruising. Yes, I have figured out how to make the new ecosystem of my daily life do all the things that were wired in before, and a few new tricks in addition.

My wife and daughter, both Iphone  users, shrug , and keep telling me I should just get an Iphone. I nod, and smile and remember that Jobs fellow, way back when.

I know my grandchildren will look back on the primitive times prior to direct neural implants as a painful and dull process, but for now, my daily world is calming down to a new routine.




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About TKC1101

Curmudgeon (Reserve Status), Corporate Refugee, Proud Grandfather, Small Business Advisor and Salvage, Heinlein American

9 Responses to Modern Times

  1. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    I’m older than you. I recollect a couple nerds in college trucking boxes of IBM cards for the “computer” which filled a room and had less computing power than the original Apple 2.

    I recollect going into practice with a friend who was a double doc (MD & PHD – in P-Chem of all things!). He had begun scratch building a computer for himself but dropped the project, which was ready for him to marry a keyboard to the box he had wired, when Apple came out with the Apple 2. Greg refused to pay the Apple prices for extra chips and instead bought them (God knows where) and expanded his computer on his own.

    I remember my first desktop 8086. Internal disc drive of the huge size of 40 KILObytes. Word Perfect was the word processor and you had to know how to swap out pages since the basic playing field was too small for the whole program.

    I had an Apple MacBookPro portable. Hated the thing. It did NOTHING the way I thought it ought, and I spent lots of time trying to figure out how to make it do what I wanted it to. Still hate it.

    Then came the phones. My kids got the flips, I got the one installed in your car. They ended up going through a couple versions, all cheap. I stayed with mine as it was paid for.

    My kids are all iPhone, although my daughter uses a Microsoft portable. My son is all Apple. I’m a hodgepodge. I have a desktop IBM, an iPad, and I’ve finally joined the current century and gotten an iPhone. It’s kind of neat, but I’m no where near as enamoured as I am with the basic computer. I would not, eg, check this forum on my phone, although I’m sure I could.

    And my car! It does Apply Play, downloads my contacts from my phone, takes texts, rings and I can talk on the phone, makes calls. THAT is a proper servant!

    • TKC1101TKC1101 says:

      I really enjoy talking to my car. Play this song, turn the heat up, less fan, find a restaurant nearby,call Pete, show traffic alerts, turn on lower lumbar massage.

      Now if it would just tell me a joke like Cortana…

  2. drlorentzdrlorentz says:

    I was probably the last person within a 100 mile radius to get a cell phone. The year was 2013. I had ipods before, of course, for music and audiobooks. From 2011 to 2013 I used my wife’s cast-off iPhone as an ipod & GPS device with internet connectivity when there was wifi.

    Even today, it does not function as a phone much, in the traditional sense. Never had much use for talking on the phone when away from my desk. I especially detest being interrupted when I’m out of the house or office enjoying a quiet moment.

    The iPhone brings great utility to me, in descending order of importance:
    1. music player
    2. audiobook player
    3. web browsing
    4. maps/GPS
    5. calendar
    6. banking
    7. text messaging

    Notice that 1,2, 4 and 5 do not require cellular service or any internet connectivity. Also notice “phone” is not listed. These devices are hardly phones anymore, which is why I finally succumbed.

  3. RightAnglesRightAngles says:

    Wow, drlorentz, I thought I was the last one to get a cell phone (2003). I was dragged kicking and screaming. I only got one because everyone was always so mad at me for not being reachable 24 hours a day. I miss that. When my daughter’s IPhone got wet and we had to wait a few days for the replacenent, you’d have thought she’d been sentenced to hard labor in a gulag the way she carried on.

    • drlorentzdrlorentz says:

      Ha! 2003? Amateur ;)

      Everyone was also annoyed with me for not being reachable 24/7, which was kind of the point as far as I was concerned. Even today, I do not take phone calls on it and respond to text messages when I feel like it. You can call me Mr. Asynchronous Communication.

      I do sympathize with your daughter, though. Once you have one, you come to rely on it. But not for telephony in my case. I bet your daughter doesn’t use the phone aspect much either. Mine doesn’t.

  4. jzdrojzdro says:

    Ha, RA. Ha, I say! My first cell phone came to me a mere five years ago; furthermore the service around here in the hinterland only became good enough for a cell phone to work about 15 months ago. So, now I have 5,000 minutes saved up on my cheapo Tracfone. Maybe I should call you and use up some of those.

    Those tiny little screens on the mobile devices shrivel the brains, it is clear to me. We have had European visitors make their way to our fairly remote farm, guided by their devices and their GPS voices, and not know where the hell they are. More than once I have fed them their breakfast, then hauled out my NYT Atlas of the World, and shown them in large format where they are, where they have been, and where they are going. They have been amazed and pleased, while I have been dismayed.

    Texting shrinks thought, as well. The habit of shrunken thought is all too quickly learned.

  5. TKC1101TKC1101 says:

    I do not forget being chained to a physical location by the telephone or just proximity of workers. Of 9-5 hours and vast pools of people to type the words of a few, coy them , file them and carry them from place to place.

    We traded the chains of seasons and animal moods to the clock, synchronization of our lives when we moved from the farms to the factory and the office.

    We now can work from the beach or our bathrobe, live and travel where it suits us, work and vacation on the same day. We are information nomads. Our hobo’s bindle is our phone.

    And then again, freedom’s just another word for…

    • drlorentzdrlorentz says:

      I heartily endorse these sentiments. Connectivity is great as long as we remain its masters and do not become its slaves. One reason almost no one has my mobile number, and those who do are cautioned not to call except in emergency, is that telephony demands instant response. On the other hand, text messages and email allow you to remain the sovereign of your time.

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